Being a college student is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Though the college student life might seem overwhelming at times, there are certainly ways college students can make their days slightly easier and more productive. By following these five life hacks, any college student has the potential to erase some stress and continue catapulting toward success.
1. Use an App to Block Social Media While Studying
Have you ever found yourself desperately trying to focus on studying, reading, or writing a paper only to be continually interrupted by notifications from social media on your phone or laptop? You are not alone. Social media and other notifications have been threatening to change the way the human brain works by lessening its ability to focus for long periods of time—partly because the ‘dings’ and ‘pings’ shift focus each time they sound. Well, there is an app for that.
Apps like Offtime, Moment, Flipd, Freedom, Self Control, Cold Turkey, FocusMe, and Focus (to name a few) provide various social media-blocking services on smartphones and laptops to give you that much-needed focus time while studying. When you know you have a major test, project, or paper coming up, use one of these applications to block your social media notifications for an hour or so—or at least long enough to focus productively for a set period of time. Your grades (and sanity) will thank you.
2. Take Notes in a Study Guide Format
While students without the benefit of helpful life hacks might take notes in a haphazard format during lectures without planning ahead for an eventual test, only to sift through pages and pages of information later, you now have an advantage. Taking notes in a study guide format from the start will help you keep track of information as you learn it and save it in an easy-to-study document (either handwritten or typed) that you can use before a test.
How do you take notes in a study guide format? Well, you can utilize font size and color while taking notes during a lecture or while reading to categorize your notes based on headings and sub-headings. By creating larger or different colored headings and bullet points with the most important information from classes, your eyes will easily find different subjects and main ideas when you go back over your notes later. This will save you time and energy and keep you from trying to make sense of information right before a test rather than studying throughout the quarter or semester.
3. Watch Documentaries on Class Subjects
Do you ever find yourself sick of reading from a textbook at the moment, confused by class material, or in need of a brain break but do not want to fully separate from study mode? Documentaries on your class subjects could help you better grasp the content you are learning and also provide a much-needed break for your eyes from reading small font in a textbook or on a computer screen. With the benefit of modern-day technology, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and any channel with high-quality documentaries could provide you with a fresh look at a time in history, sociological problem, anthropological concept, mathematical equation, and the list goes on.
Although documentaries cannot take the place of your assigned texts or projects, they might help you understand the material in a new way or make the content seem more connected to your life as you experience it. YouTube even features video series on subjects like World and U.S. History, Neuroscience, Sociology, and other subjects uploaded by professors and other content creators.
4. Meal/Life Prep on Sundays
If you do not have a meal plan on your college campus or get hungry in the middle of certain classes, you could use some meal prepping. Though you might think meal prepping is just for diets or workout regimens; chopping vegetables, gathering snacks, and making sandwiches for the week in portioned containers on Sundays will inevitably erase major stress during the week. Rather than forgetting to eat or worrying about spending money on campus for food, having your own ready-to-eat snacks and meals with you at all times will save you time and energy and ensure you are fueled up for long and busy days as a college student.
If you do have a meal plan and have no problem accessing meals and snacks at convenient times, prepping for the week in other ways on Sundays can still be extremely helpful. By mapping out the week ahead in a planner, making sure you have all necessary supplies, and scheduling time for exercise and social activities, you will set yourself up for success. No one plans to fail, but some people fail to plan. You do not have to be one of them!
5. Sleep Deprived? Take Short, Concentrated Naps
You might know all about the benefits of getting plenty of sleep, but did you know that naps provide important benefits as well? Naps have been shown to help you refocus, regain energy, and regenerate in general, even in short bursts. You may have heard these naps called ‘power naps,’ and they are aptly named.
College can be exhausting, and even if you do not have time to take 90 minutes for a full REM cycle during the day, you can take 10 to 30 minutes to recharge your batteries. Even if you only have five minutes, try lying on your back with your feet wider than hip-width, letting your knees fall inward to touch and then crossing your arms at the elbows and resting them over your eyes. This pose allows you to center yourself and rest, perhaps giving you a much-needed boost when you start to feel depleted.
Hopefully these college student life hacks will help you conquer stress and continue on your journey toward becoming the best student and human being you can be! If you’re overwhelmed by life in college, remember that you are on this journey for a reason. Enjoy, and give yourself a break from time to time.